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Keeping Art Alive at Frank Bette

The president of the board of the Frank Bette Center for the Arts talks about weathering the economic downturn

Keeping Art Alive at Frank Bette Keeping Art Alive at Frank Bette Keeping Art Alive at Frank Bette Keeping Art Alive at Frank Bette Keeping Art Alive at Frank Bette Keeping Art Alive at Frank Bette Keeping Art Alive at Frank Bette

Like many arts organizations, the  is navigating difficult financial times.

Last spring, the center lost its executive director and is currently run by volunteers. A determined group of community members are experimenting with new ways to keep the center afloat. 

Board president Faye Wilson talks about what's going on with the center.

Looks like you've come up with some interesting ways to bring in revenue? Our 2012 Plein Aire calendars make great Christmas gifts. They’re $10 each or 12 for $60. The calendar has a great variety of street scenes that capture Alameda — all the pieces that make Alameda a truly special place, a gem in the San Francisco bay Area — the lagoons, the gardens, Neptune Court.

Each of the 12 pictures in the calendar were painted by artists during our Plein Air event and selected by our community sponsors. You can order the calendar online or buy it at the Center.

During the month of December, our holiday boutique features 23 artists. There are gifts including cards, ornaments, ceramics, hats and jewelry. It’s very affordable and you may find just what you are looking for.

Our next themed exhibit is Déjà Vu and features memorable, gently used art objects. It will kick off with a Silent Auction on Jan. 7. And we have always had classes and workshops. We also offer membership — so if you want to be an exhibiting artist, you can join.

And of course, we have individual donors and are working on development and grant funding.

Is this a sustainable model for funding the arts? It certainly has been for us for the last months. We have to focus on development — raising funds and gaining more community sponsors.

When we lost funding last year, all the volunteers took on the challenge. Everybody jumped in. I really want to thank them and express our appreciation. It’s a lot of work, but when people walk in they see the results and say, “Wow, this is really great!”

How many volunteers help at the Center? About thirty. There are a lot of people behind the scenes. They help put up and take down the shows. Some of the volunteers are computer savvy and help with the website. We’re always glad to have new volunteers. Just call the main number here at the Center or check on the website.

What is your role as President of the Board? I make sure we’re raising money and supporting the artists. Our mission is to support the artists and unleash their creativity. A healthy art community adds to the community as a whole.

I help with future planning for events such as the Plein Aire Paint Out and Alameda On Camera. All of the members of the Board are very active. We also have an operations team that takes care of finances, facilities, satellite exhibits, and marketing. I want to give a lot of credit to the Ops Team which coordinates so many of our events.

Where are the satellite exhibits? In addition to the Signature Gallery, which features the work of one artist, and our themed exhibits, we have satellite galleries at , ,  and . We would like to add more locations. It’s a nice way to support the community.

Why do you suppose so many, including yourself, give so freely of their time? It’s a commitment of time. That’s certainly true. It’s a lot of work. But the artists and the patrons are so supportive and appreciative. It gives you more energy — it empowers you to do more. It’s wonderful to be able to support all these artists.

The Frank Bette Center for the Arts is at 1601 Paru St, Alameda, CA 94501 | 510 523 6957. More details about their offerings can be found on their website


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